High school senior Jacob Rudolph won an award from his classmates at Parsippany High School in New Jersey on Sunday for “Class Actor.” In a courageous move captured by his father for YouTube, Jacob used the opportunity to inform them that he’d been doing a lot more acting than they realized and came out as LGBT in a brief stirring speech:
RUDOLPH: Sure I’ve been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I’ve been acting every single day of my life. You see, I’ve been acting as someone I’m not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of ‘straight’ Jacob, when I am in fact an LGBT teen. [...]
Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I’m not going to do it anymore. It’s time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me, leave me, or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that’s how I’m going to act from now on.
Watch the speech and the crowd’s incredibly positive reaction:
Jacob explained that he identifies as “LGBT,” as opposed to gay or bi specifically because he is still figuring out his identity. After his courageous speech, he felt “like this immense weight was gone. I’d been carrying it around with me for years. It affected me academically, emotionally, socially.” He also admitted to NJ.com that he’s single, adding, “That’s not why I made the announcement, but I guess it’s a bonus.”